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Customs Broker Won’t Process Documents


The carrier has submitted your shipment documents to your Customs Broker, and your Broker says that, due to an unspecified problem, they cannot process your documents.


  1. The carrier advises us that your Customs Broker will not process your shipment.
  2. We ask the carrier who they spoke with, and how exactly they described the reason(s) they would not process.
  3. We call the Customs Broker to learn what the real problem is, although at this point we are pretty sure. While a Customs Broker will never tell us directly, we have enough experience to know the meaning of their incomplete answers, muffled chuckles, and suggestion that this can be resolved tomorrow, during business hours. This lets us know that the problem is very simple: You didn’t pay your bill, and your account is in arrears.
  4. We will call you, and probably tell you that:
    a) Your Customs Broker will not clear your shipment;
    b) Although they will not tell us directly, we have very good reason to believe that the reason is that you owe them money that they think is overdue;
    c) You will have to call them to confirm the problem, and how to resolve it;
    d) The person who can release your account only works 9 – 5, Monday to Friday;
    e) As a result, your freight will not clear today, it may not clear tomorrow, and it will be held at least until your account is released;
    f) There will be significant charges for freight handling and storage and truck diversion and delay;
    g) We may require that both these additional charges and the freight charges be paid before the shipment is moved any further.
  5. We will ask you to let us know when you have resolved the matter with your Customs Broker, and we will then make the necessary arrangement with the carrier to hold your shipment, either at the carrier’s terminal, or at a third-party border warehouse.
  6. We will ask you to contact us once you have resolved the problem with your Customs Broker and they have agreed to clear the freight.
  7. We will then prepare a revised delivery plan, which may involve a new carrier and/or new documents, and an estimate of the additional handling and delay charges.


There will always be a delivery delay of at least one day, and there will always be extra charges.


Every business has its own overdue accounts policies, and every business decides how to apply those policies on a customer-specific basis. However, at some point every business will stop providing services to a delinquent customer. In the case of Customs Brokers, their ultimate method of clearing delinquent accounts is to withhold clearance services, often at the most awkward moments.

This event usually occurs after hours, or on weekends.


A delay of at least 2 days, and situation-driven charges between $200 and $2,000.